|Roy Lacey||Office Address|
|District 29||State Capitol|
|Committees:||P.O. Box 83720|
|Finance||Boise, Idaho 83720-0081|
|Health & Welfare||(208) 332-1406|
The early morning fog continued through most of this third week of the session. I have always thought that the temporary move to Boise was a move to the Sunbelt of Idaho for the winter, but such is not the case this year. I have had to return home to Pocatello to get my sunshine “fix”.
Speaking of coming home, please keep the date of February 14 open for a Town Hall meeting at the City Hall from 10AM to 12N. I know it is Valentine’s Day, but we have had a difficult time finding a day to schedule time for all three of your legislators to be in Pocatello. Please ask for forgiveness from your sweetheart and come visit with us for a short time.
Probably the most visible activity this week has been the “Add the Words” hearings on the House side. There were hours of testimony over about three days. The testimonies from both sides were full of passion as the lines in the sand were quite deep. The overwhelming majority of the testimony was in favor of passing this legislation, however the committee voted along party lines to hold the bill in committee which essentially defeats the “Add the Words” legislation for this year. Bill sponsor Cherie Buckner-Webb very eloquently said “It was important that at long last Idahoans had an opportunity to talk openly and honestly about how they experience life in their communities and issues of housing and job discrimination.” All Republicans on the committee voted to kill this legislation and the Democrats voted to carry it forward.
We had an interesting presentation by the McClure Center for Public Policy Research on a poll they had conducted regarding the adequacy of our highway system. The sample was large enough to be relevant. Some of the data they collected showed that 94% acknowledged that roads and bridges were an essential part of Idaho’s economy and must be maintained and 85% felt that additional funding is necessary to make roads and bridges safer. Also, 53% of those surveyed felt that our roads and bridges should be one of the three top priorities for our legislature. Only 5% felt that at our current rate of maintenance our roads and bridges would be adequate in 10 years. Idaho’s economy is tied to our highway system which includes the feeder roads that connect with the interstates. We need to move forward quickly if this system will be able to handle the level of use into the future.
It was education week in the Joint Appropriation and Finance Committee. We have listened to all the educators express their need for more funding to adequately provide an education that is affordable and sustainable. Education is the key to Idaho’s future. The recommendation for higher education is not very robust as more emphasis has been placed on K-12 by the Governor. However, this only means that more pressure is being placed upon the students in the way of higher tuition if the level of education is to remain the same. President Vailas and the other university presidents did a wonderful job of “selling” their schools hoping for more funding to curtail the financial load the students needed to carry.
Of course, the excitement of listening to the new Superintendent of Public Instruction was tantamount on everyone’s minds this week. She did not disappoint and showed a minimal amount of slides and talked for just a few minutes (unlike her predecessor who talked for an hour or more) to explain her budget, which is not complete. There is little or no guidance for the JFAC committee to base setting a budget and as this is our largest budget and takes a considerable amount of time to compile, she has left us in a very awkward position. I understand that she may want some legislation passed or may be waiting to determine what the Education Committee is doing with the Tiered Licensure or Career Ladder rules, but I have been told that part of these rules have been tabled due to some problems. Just remember that the session cannot sine die until the budgets are approved.
This session has seemed “hurried” to me and as we push forward to an early sine die I just hope that all that is necessary for our schools, our highways and other important matters will not be overlooked or acted upon hastily. Hopefully the voice of reason will prevail and things will be done correctly. I am really looking forward to a better week as we begin February.
The bright spot of this week was having our Chamber, our Mayors and several individuals from Pocatello stop by. I do love visitors, so if you visit Boise, be sure to stop by my office.
Again, thank you for the trust and for the responsibility you have afforded me as your elected Senator. I pledge to do my best for Pocatello and Bannock County as we push through this session. Please contact me with ideas, concerns or just to say hi – email@example.com or 208 332 1406.